States Start to Require Workplace Violence Prevention Plans
For Acute Care Hospitals, Nursing Facilities
California has become the first state to mandate that all acute care hospitals and skilled-nursing facilities create and implement comprehensive workplace violence prevention plans. Others may soon follow California’s lead.
Cal OSHA originated the legislation with support from unions and the California Nurses Association The reason behind the new law: high potential for injuries against healthcare workers. According to recent data, healthcare employees are tops with 650,000 injuries per year, most of any industry group.
What’s more that number doesn’t reflect the fact that these injuries are underreported, since only 19% are disclosed.
Since there is an ever-increasing likelihood that other states and municipalities will pass similar regulations, it pays for all healthcare security and safety pros to study what’s in the California law.
A workplace violence prevention plan must be prepared and it must include these provisions:
- Annual personnel education and training regarding workplace violence;
- A system for responding to and investigating violent or potentially violent incidents; and
- Procedures for annual assessment and evaluation of factors that could help to prevent workplace violence.
According to a recent law firm report on the law, “Employers must provide annual education and training to all employees at their facility who administer direct patient care, including physicians and temporary employees.” This training must include, but not be limited to, information regarding:
- Identifying potentially harmful and violent situations and appropriate responses thereto;
- Reporting violent incidents to law enforcement officials; and
- Resources available to employees coping with the aftermath of a violent incident, such as critical incident stress debriefing and/or employee assistance programs.
Employers would provide an annual assessment identifying the factors that might minimize the number of incidents of workplace violence. This report should include a review of staffing and staffing patterns; the sufficiency of security systems at the facility; job design, equipment, and facilities; and areas of high security risk including entry and exit points for employees during late-night and early-morning shifts and employee parking lot safety.
Employees and collective bargaining groups must be allowed to provide input in the prevention programs. Employers are also expressly prohibited from taking punitive or retaliatory action against employees for reporting violent incidents.